Seminar on food security and the future perspectives of potato production held at Faisalabad Agricultural University by Netherlands embassy
FAISALABAD (Pakistan) – Renowned Dutch agriculture expert, Romke Wustman, who is visiting Pakistan, has advised the country to ensure use of technology at all stages of potato production from seed to storage as well to improve economic benefit to farmers and other stakeholders.
Since Netherlands has a long history of successful agricultural production, agricultural technology and solutions, the Netherlands embassy in Pakistan has invited an agriculture expert to share useful information with Pakistani agriculturalists, research organisations, universities and chambers of commerce to strengthen work and relationships in the area of food security and agriculture.
The recent seminar held at University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) was organised by the Embassy of the Netherlands on food security and the future perspectives of potato production in Pakistan. The Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy, Renate Pors and Dutch agricultural expert, Romke Wustman addressed the gathering of faculty and students.
“Potato is the fourth most important crop in Pakistan and grows in various diverse ecological zones in the country. Pakistan is one of the largest potato producing countries, however, our average yield is low and we need multipronged strategies to combat the various issues the sector faces” Dr. Muhammad Amjad, Director Institute of Horticultural Sciences said. He thanked the Netherlands government for sharing their agricultural expertise with to help Pakistan improve its potato yield.
Romke Wustman, Dutch potato specialist, discussed seed concepts, viability, multiplication, certification and storage and shared some vital information with the audience in this regard. Narrating the success story of agriculture in Netherlands, Romke said, “We have over 400 varieties of potato seed registered and we produce one million tonnes of seed potatoes of which 70 percent are exported to over 80 countries. Pakistan has been growing Dutch varieties for fifty or sixty years now.”
Mr. Wustman focused on two critical areas for the growth of potatoes which is the seed and storage. In the Netherlands there are ten companies working in seed production for various climates worldwide and Pakistan has been growing Netherlands bred potato varieties for more than 40 years. He said that in his experience a commercial business model works most effectively in building sustainable systems.
Professor Dr. Muhammad Amjad, Vice-Chancellor of the University said that the potato is a vital crop in Pakistan and the Government has placed agriculture as a priority. “We need to look at costs of production, storage, value addition and ensuring the wellbeing of the growers” he said adding that Dutch expert Mr. Wustman has proposed viable options to produce high-quality seeds in Pakistan which is the highest cost component for potato production.
Ms. Pors spoke about the food security issues in the world and said, the Netherlands is a small country with a population of around 17 million. “We are at the same time a large producer and the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products and food. Increased agricultural production, better nutritional access and more efficient markets and business environments are all important to get enough food to where it is needed. Consumers are more aware and they know what they want which also needs to be considered by researchers to meet demands” Ms. Pors said.